Japan vs England

Japan vs England Preview: A World Top 10 Clash With History Too

When England faced Japan four years ago in their World Cup semifinal in Canada, the Lionesses lost the tie, heartbreakingly, through an own goal in the 92nd minute. The stakes aren’t quite as high this time around – it is ‘only’ the group stage, and both teams have already progressed into the next round – but it is not a complete dead rubber.

Victory against Japan in the SheBelieves Cup in March, despite it being a friendly tournament, and the manner in which they secured it will no doubt have given Phil Neville’s side confidence ahead of their meeting in Nice. Now, after narrowly defeating Scotland and overcoming Argentina’s attempts to frustrate them, England should be well-prepared for their final test after these two difficult fixtures.

Neville pointed out that “Japan struggled to create chances against Argentina but we didn’t”. The South Americans held the former world champions to a goalless draw, in which Asako Takakura’s side looked every inch the team in transition they were thought to be. A much more composed performance against Scotland served as a timely reminder of their class, encapsulated by Mana Iwabuchi’s fine finish, although they could do with some ruthlessness to match the levels of dominance. Read More

Netherlands vs Cameroon

Netherlands vs Cameroon Preview: The Battle of the Lionesses

Following their unexpected victory at the 2017 European Championship on home soil, the Netherlands have often been regarded as favourites against any opposition. That didn’t change in the build-up to their Group E opener against New Zealand. And although it was billed as a heavyweight mismatch, what followed was anything but.

A defensive masterclass from the Football Ferns stifled the famously deadly Dutch attack, who struggled to pose any real danger and were unable to break down a stubborn backline – until the dramatic dying moments, when substitute Jill Roord finished from close range. The relief was evident, but Sarina Wiegman and her Orange Lionesses will not want to leave it so late against Cameroon.

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Argentina vs Japan Preview

Argentina vs Japan Preview: Lack of experience to cost La Albiceleste

To say Argentina’s road to the World Cup was rocky would be an understatement. They were already treading on dangerously uneven territory when the long-winded route started to present obstacles at every turn, each of them incremental in the level of fatality and casting a semi-permanent shadow over their hopes of navigating it successfully.

Even before a third-placed finish in the 2018 Copa América hindered their chances of direct qualification, there was a bigger battle taking place outside the confines of a football stadium. Following long-standing issues with the federation regarding their (lack of) support, the players went on strike, seeking better pay and working conditions.

Argentina were so underfunded that they did not play a single international match nor had any staff after the 2015 Pan American Games through to the end of 2017. That was when they regrouped, and through the Copa América they overcame Panama in a rugged Concacaf-Conmebol play-off which finished 5-1 on aggregate. And so, after a 12-year absence, Argentina have returned to the world’s biggest stage. Read More